The English Gipsies and Their Language eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about The English Gipsies and Their Language.
are generally aware that there are copious vocabularies of all the other Gipsy dialects of Europe easy to obtain from any bookseller.  Had my friend used the works of Pott or Paspati, Ascoli or Grellman, he would have found it an easy thing to translate this advertisement.  The truth simply is, that for scholars there is not a single secret or hidden word in English Gipsy or in any other Rommany dialect, and none except scholars will take pains to acquire it.  Any man who wished to learn sufficient Gipsy to maintain a conversation, and thereby learn all the language, could easily have done so half a century ago from the vocabularies published by Bright and other writers.  A secret which has been for fifty years published in very practical detail in fifty books, is indeed a secret de Ponchinelle.

I have been asked scores of times, “Have the Gipsies an alphabet of their own? have they grammars of their language, dictionaries, or books?” Of course my answer was in the negative.  I have heard of vocabularies in use among crypto-Rommanies, or those who having risen from the roads live a secret life, so to speak, but I have never seen one.  But they have songs; and one day I was told that in my neighbourhood there lived a young Gipsy woman who was a poetess and made Rommany ballads.  “She can’t write,” said my informant; “but her husband’s a Gorgio, and he can.  If you want them, I’ll get you some.”  The offer was of course accepted, and the Gipsy dame, flattered by the request, sent me the following.  The lyric is without rhyme, but, as sung, not without rhythm.


   “Die at the gargers (Gorgios),
   The gargers round mandy! 
   Trying to lel my meripon,
   My meripon (meripen) away.

   I will care (kair) up to my chungs (chongs),
   Up to my chungs in Rat,
   All for my happy Racler (raklo).

   My mush is lelled to sturribon (staripen),
   To sturribon, to sturribon;
   Mymush is lelled to sturribon,
   To the Tan where mandy gins (jins).”


“Look at the Gorgios, the Gorgios around me! trying to take my life away.

“I will wade up to my knees in blood, all for my happy boy.

“My husband is taken to prison, to prison, to prison; my husband is taken to prison, to the place of which I know.”


Difficulty of obtaining Information.—­The Khedive on the Gipsies.—­Mr Edward Elias.—­Mahomet introduces me to the Gipsies.—­They call themselves Tataren.—­The Rhagarin or Gipsies at Boulac.—­Cophts.—­Herr Seetzen on Egyptian Gipsies.—­The Gipsy with the Monkey in Cairo.—­Street-cries of the Gipsy Women in Egypt.  Captain Newbold on the Egyptian Gipsies.

Since writing the foregoing pages, and only a day or two after one of the incidents therein described, I went to Egypt, passing the winter in Cairo and on the Nile.  While waiting in the city for the friend with whom I was to ascend the mysterious river, it naturally occurred to me, that as I was in the country which many people still believe is the original land of the Gipsies, it would be well worth my while to try to meet with some, if any were to be found.

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The English Gipsies and Their Language from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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